Skip to content

Kenya’s Blood Banks are Beginning to Run Dry

The country had relied for years almost entirely on U.S. aid for its state-run blood transfusion service, but the funding was discontinued in September. The director of the service, part of Kenya’s Health Ministry, said the support ended abruptly and prematurely, leaving Kenyan officials unprepared. But U.S. officials said a transition of responsibility had been discussed for 10 years. The U.S. government gave Kenya $72.5 million over more than 15 years through its global HIV/AIDS prevention program, called PEPFAR, to build its blood safety and transfusion infrastructure nearly from scratch — from the blood banks themselves to equipment and training. The aid was aimed at building confidence in blood collection so Kenyans wouldn’t fear getting tested for the virus. The United States says it has gradually reduced funding over the course of the last decade for the blood transfusion service from a high of almost $6 million per year to $1.4 million last year. They emphasized that the U.S. government had been satisfied that the Kenyan government was ready to take control of it when the funding was withdrawn. But the Kenyan government did not provide for the transfusion service in its budget for 2020, and the past year’s blood collection totals were dire.